Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Missing Mike deserves his own post… you’ll see why. From Atua Bear.

I teach/lead a discussion section for lower-division basket weaving. We are five weeks into the quarter, and I noticed that Missing Mike had all zeros for discussion attendance and quizzes. The days and quizzes missed amount to 6% of his grade thus far. So, I shoot missing mike an email, reminding missing mike to drop the class and discussion section (thinking he forgot to drop), so that he does not get a bad grade on his transcript. Missing mike replies:

What do you mean that I'm enrolled in your section? And i have been to class and was planning on continuing to take it? I have missed a few lectures but I think I'll be able to still get a good grade and pass the class. Unless I've missed too many classes and won't be able to pass due to attendance. sorry for the confusion, I'm just not sure exactly what you mean.

I kindly responded to Missing Mike letting him know that it is mandatory to attend section with a TA. I inquire as to which section he has been attending and he replies:

oh my god! wow, I had no idea about the discussion! Is it too late now? Is there any way I can still take this class and pass? Because i really need this class! Or is there an attendance policy with the discussions and I've already missed too many? Now that i know I'd definitely be at all future discussions. Thank you for your help!

It’s not too late, and, of course, I tell him that. But, what really floors me is that he managed to get this far without piecing the puzzle together. The professor mentions in every lecture that this and that will be further discussed in section with your TA. I have sent out clarification emails to my sections to clear up any potential confusion from that day’s discussion (who the hell did he think I was?!). And, I even sent out the syllabus, via email, before the quarter began. The professor’s syllabus also mentions that section is worth 10% of their grade and briefly addresses what section is in the syllabus. The students are even required to write their TA’s name and section number on top of the quizzes, but, of course, nothing from missing mike. I just don’t understand how missing mike could have missed all these hints. Lecture has met three times a week for five weeks, so I am at a loss for words…

Maybe it’s because he’s a freshman? Maybe he’s lying? Maybe he doesn’t care? I suppose his nickname is indicative of the situation: because he has “missed a few lectures,” he missed all the hints. I hope to see Missing Mike this week, but, if he is still MIA, then I shall report back.


  1. I'm not sure what to make sure of students like this, either, but I do get them regularly (though not, thank goodness, in large numbers). In my case (teaching mostly a required class for juniors), they usually seem to be community college transfers. That puzzles me, since I don't think of community colleges as places where there's a great deal of hand-holding (though there are, of course, second and third chances -- and maybe, with the advent of retention systems, lots and lots of warnings about missed work, absences, etc.?).

    I strongly suspect that some if not all cases like this could be eliminated if parents and teachers did less reminding of high school freshmen and sophomores, allowing them to experience the consequences of lack of planning/attention, up to and including needing to repeat a grade. But I realize that's hard to do, since all high school grades do have consequences for college admission, some students really aren't ready cognitively for such responsibility at 13/14, etc., etc. Somewhere there's a happy medium that doesn't produce Mikes -- or, for that matter, college graduates who can't seem to absorb and follow the expectations of the work world without repeated explicit instructions/reminders.

  2. That's awfully nice of you to follow up with Missing Mike, especially since everyone else seems to have caught on that they have to attend class. He sounds too dumb to be true (i.e. he knew he should be attending, but since no one called him on it, he didn't).

  3. sounds like a liar to me. He knew there was a discussion section, it just wasn't worth his time for only 10% Hope he enjoys that full letter grade hit!